The Stars of Stage and Screen: The Stories Behind the Greatest Songs from Broadway Musicals and Hollywood Movies…

Footloose was a movie that debuted in 1984. It starred Kevin Bacon as a young teenage boy from Chicago who ends up moving to a small midwest town. Once there, he learns that his big city upbringing doesn’t translate well to this small community that functions under the authority of a local pastor played by John Lithgow. As many of you know by now, the movie’s plot line comes to a head when Bacon convinces some of his new high school friends that dancing is fun and that they have the right to hold a Prom, just like any other high school in America. Lithgow, who preaches that dancing to rock n’ roll music is akin to worshiping the Devil, unleashes his fury upon Bacon and attempts to paint him as an evil outsider coming to turn their peaceful town upside down. Eventually, Lithgow’s own daughter chooses to side with Bacon and Lithgow is forced to choose between his love for her or his rigid ideology. In the end, there is music and dance and a grudging respect shown between Bacon and Lithgow. The end.

Sometimes a movie is merely an entertaining tale told on screen. But, sometimes a movie is more than that. That Footloose was released in 1984 was no fluke. In fact, it was part of a carefully-crafted business plan developed by a man named Dean Pitchford, who had earned a lot of Hollywood credibility from writing the music and script for the film, Fame, a few years earlier. The early 1980s saw the rise of video music channel MTV, and the proliferation of a promotional tool known as music videos. In order to capitalize on that emerging trend, Pitchford wrote a nine-song soundtrack and pitched that soundtrack as a movie idea. Pitchford’s idea was to create a story that was told through nine very different, stand-alone songs. He said that he wasn’t writing a musical in the truest sense of the word but, instead, he was writing a film whose story was being told through music. The soundtrack that eventually ended up forming the backbone of the film, Footloose, spawned numerous #1 hit songs such as the title track (sung by Kenny Loggins), Let’s Hear It For The Boy (sung by Denice Williams), Holding Out For a Hero (by Bonnie Tyler), Almost Paradise (by Ann Wilson, from Heart and Mike Reno from Loverboy) and several others, as well. The soundtrack album went to #1, knocking Michael Jackson’s Thriller from the top spot on the charts. Furthermore, the songs were written and recorded before any filming took place which was advantageous for the actors because it meant that they were dancing on screen to the actual songs from the soundtrack, as opposed to dancing to pre-designed choreography and then having the music adapted to the film later in post-production.

The song, Footloose, was written by Pitchford, along with help from Kenny Loggins. The story behind their collaboration was that “Hollywood” would not approve the budget to begin filming the movie until Pitchford had acquired the services of Loggins to sing the title track. A meeting was scheduled between them and all looked good until news came out that Kenny Loggins had fallen off of a stage during a concert and broken his ribs. Because of the timing of the injury…with Hollywood executives breathing down his neck and a world tour in the offing for Loggins, Pitchford asked Loggins if they could meet on the weekend that Loggins was scheduled to get married. Loggins agreed. However, when that weekend came, Pitchford developed strep throat and required medication in order to protect Loggins’ throat from becoming infected on the eve of a world tour. Loggins, on his end, was taking painkillers for his injured ribs and could not play sitting down. Somehow, the pair managed to flesh out the chorus and main ideas for each verse and Loggins was able to record a sample-type version on a tape recorder in Pitchford’s hotel room. That cassette tape contained enough proof of Loggins’ commitment to the project that the movie budget was approved and the project was given the go-ahead. This collaboration proved so successful that Pitchford and Loggins teamed up again a couple of years later for the song Danger Zone, from the soundtrack of a little film called Top Gun. This was another movie in which the soundtrack came first and formed the core of the movie pitch, before a single word of the script was written.

At the time of its release, Footloose was given only mixed reviews as far as the quality of the movie, itself, went. But, one of the most enduring elements of the film was its exploration of the old saying that “all politics are local”. Released in an era that saw the commercial potential of music videos exploding across the nation, Footloose explored the idea that there are more parts to the country than people may realize that are isolated and insulated from national trends. In these small communities, there can be individuals with powerful personalities who gain prominence by being elected as Mayor or Sheriff or as head of the local School Board or Church and, as such they come to wield an inordinate amount of influence over the lives of the citizens of that community. Such happenings are not just the work of Hollywood screenwriters. One has only to look to the most recent history of the US to see how the local politics of School Boards, Library Boards and so on, are where much of the momentum for book banning and the fight against sexual ideology are coming from. In an effort to reorient an entire nation, battles are being fought from the public squares and town halls of local communities…all occupied by zealots who believe in the purity of their cause and are willing to browbeat anyone who dares to think differently. When you think about it that way, that is the exact plot of Footloose in a nutshell. Kevin Bacon was vilified as an outsider who was trying to foist progressive views upon the citizens of a small town. The powers that be in that town fought back against him so as to preserve their traditional way of life. In the end, Bacon’s progressive views held the day but, will that be the case across America in real time today? The attack on so-called progressive values such as racial equality, social justice, freedom of sexual orientation, women’s reproductive rights, issues of gender and so on are all under threat in the US as you read this post. These are troubled times for many in America and I am not sure if dancing will be enough to save them and the causes that progressives champion. To paraphrase the Footloose soundtrack, many are holding out for a hero. But, who will that hero end up being?

The link to the video for the song, Footloose, from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the film Footloose can be found here.

The link to the video for the movie trailer to the film Footloose can be found here.

***Please note that the content of this post is the sole property of the author. It cannot be shared, re-posted or reproduced in any manner without the express written consent of the author. ©2022, TomMacInnesWriter.com

Keepin’ It Classy: The Stories Behind the World’s Great Classical Compositions…Song #2/50: Adagio For Strings, Opus 11 by Samuel Barber

Today’s composition is one of the most famous American classical compositions of all-time: Samuel Barber’s Adagio For Strings, Opus 11. We know that the word Opus means that this was Barber’s eleventh published composition, but today we are also going to discuss the meaning of the word Adagio. Adagio is a musical term that instructs orchestras on which tempo (or speed) to use when playing the song. Specifically, Adagio means to play slowly. If you look at the sheet music above, you will note the term, Molto adagio at the top, left hand corner. This means Very Slowly. So, even before looking at what notes to play, an orchestra member would note the instruction given by the composer regarding the tempo they had in mind and formulate an appropriate playing style in their minds before ever beginning to play. The term Allegro is the counter-balance to Adagio, as it means to play quickly, with energy and joy. Consequently, before we start to discuss the nature of this famous composition, you can tell from its title that Adagio for Strings, Opus 11 was Samuel Barber’s eleventh composition, that it was written for stringed instruments and that it will be a piece of music that is played slowly because of the use of the term, Adagio.

Samuel Barber was one of America’s most famous and prolific composers from his early days during the Great Depression, all the way to his death in the early 1980s. He was born into a musical family. His mother was a concert pianist and his aunt was an opera singer. Barber showed prodigy-like talent from an early age and was writing his own sonatas before the age of ten. Such was Barber’s talent that he was enrolled in a special school for musically gifted children called The Curtis School in Philadelphia. While just entering his teens, Barber graduated with a triple-major in Voice, Piano and String music. While still a young man in his early twenties, Barber began writing operas. While doing so, he fell in love with a tenor named Gian Carlo Menotti and began a love affair that spanned over a half century. In addition to being a gifted composer, Barber was just as well known for being an educator and has been often cited by modern American composers as a role model and mentor for those lucky enough to have worked under his guidance. Samuel Barber won the Pulitzer Prize for Music twice, but his best known work is Adagio For Strings, Opus 11.

Adagio For Strings, Opus 11 was written for a string quartet in 1939. America was just regaining its moxy after having suffered through The Great Depression. However, the mood in the U.S.and around the world was somber, as World War II was just about to start in Europe. Barber’s composition is certainly one that captured the forlorn nature of the times. Adagio for Strings, Opus 11 has been voted as being the saddest song in the world. It possesses beauty and elegance, but does so in a way that often elicits an emotional response from listeners in the form of sadness. Not surprisingly, Adagio For Strings, Opus 11 has become one of the most requested funeral songs and has been played at the funerals of prominent people such as Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Albert Einstein. It was also played in England to close out the famous BBC Proms series of concerts just after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre in New York City. Adagio for Strings, Opus 11 was first played on NBC Radio during a performance of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra as conducted by famed conductor, Arturo Toscanini. It was also the very first musical composition played when the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts first opened in the 1960s. This musical composition has been used to create a reflective, emotional mood in movies, too. Most famously, Adagio For Strings, Opus 11 was played while Willem Dafoe’s character was killed in the Vietnam war movie, Platoon. *(I will include that scene in the links below).

It is easy to label Adagio For Strings, Opus 11 as “sad music” and then leave it at that. But, to do so is to miss the genius of this composition. A funny and unexpected thing has happened to Adagio for Strings, Opus 11 as our calendars flipped from 1999 to the 2000s. One of the greatest trends in modern music in the past twenty years has been the coming together of classical music and electronic dance music. Orchestras the world over are now giving concerts that take the best of the classical music genre and combine it with the latest EDM technology and, as such, new life is being breathed into centuries old music which, in turn, is causing the original pieces to be re-interpreted. In 2004, a Dutch DJ named Tiesto took Barber’s “sad song” and pumped it up with techno beats and in doing so, helped to create a song that now fills listeners with euphoria. Even though Tiesto’s version of Adagio For Strings, Opus 11 is populated with synthesized thumping beats, the inner strength of Barber’s score is immediately recognizable. But, more importantly, what Tiesto managed to accomplish was to show the world that Adagio For Strings, Opus 11 is not an inherently sad song…it is an inherently emotional song, and that this emotion can be used for happiness and optimism, just as easily as it had been known for sadness and feelings of loss in the past.

So, in the videos below, I will show you a performance of this composition by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. I will add a second video that shows how Barber’s version of Adagio For Strings, Opus 11 was used in the movie, Platoon. Finally, we will change the feel of this music completely while viewing the joyfulness of Tiesto’s version as played at the mecca of electronic dance music festivals, Tomorrowland.

So, without further delay, here is Adagio For Strings, Opus 11 by Samuel Barber. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the composition Adagio For Strings, Opus 11 by Samuel Barber can be found here.

The link to the video for the composition Adagio For Strings, Opus 11 as seen in the movie Platoon can be found here.

The link to the video for the composition Adagio For Strings, Opus 11 as performed by DJ Tiesto can be found here.

***The content of this blog post is the sole property of the author. This post may not be re-posted, re-blogged, copied or reproduced in any format without the express written consent of the author, TomMacInnesWriter. ©2022.

Today’s Top 40: A look at the Stories Behind the Chart-Topping Hits of Today…Song 1/250: We Don’t Talk About Bruno from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the film, Encanto

Editor’s Note: Each week, I intend to write about one of the songs that is making news on the charts today. In order to do this, I shall be calling upon the following Top-40 Charts: Billboard.com, Spotify.com, KEXP.org and Toronto’s own, CHUM-FM. From each of those charts, I will pick a certain chart position number and look at the song from each list that occupies that space. From there, I will determine one song to write about.

Today’s Chart Position Number: #40

Today’s Chosen Song: We Don’t Talk About Bruno from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the film, Encanto (Billboard).

The other #40 chart songs that were under consideration:

The song We Don’t Talk About Bruno is from the Academy Award-winning animated movie, Encanto. It was written by one of the most influential songwriters of this generation, Lin Manuel Miranda. Miranda, as you may remember, was the man responsible for the huge Broadway hit, Hamilton. He has also enjoyed great success writing the music for other animated movies such as Moana. His ability to write catchy melodies is unparalleled at the moment, causing We Don’t Talk About Bruno to be celebrated and reviled in equal measure as this song quickly became the ubiquitous hit of this past year in music. We Don’t Talk About Bruno was seemingly everywhere, in the same manner that Let It Go from Frozen was a few years ago. It is a song whose energy and creativity are unquestioned. So, let’s take a closer look at how this song came to be, why it was such an integral part of the storytelling of Encanto, and why it wasn’t even nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song. But first, in order to fully understand the brilliance of We Don’t Talk About Bruno, we must first take a look at the movie itself.

Encanto is an animated movie that was made by Disney. It won the award for Best Animated Feature Film at this past year’s Academy Awards. That win wasn’t by fluke. Encanto is actually a very good movie on many levels, as you shall soon see. As with almost any endeavour that earns critical praise, one of Encanto’s biggest strengths was in the attention to detail observed by those who made this movie. The most important thing to know is that Encanto is set in the country of Colombia. In keeping with South American literary traditions, Encanto was written using a literary style known as Magical Realism. This style of storytelling was the trademark of famous South American writers such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez (who wrote many books, the most famous being One Hundred Years of Solitude). A simple explanation of Magical Realism is that it is storytelling that is rooted in realistic settings and characters but that also has magical elements interwoven throughout the plot. In Encanto, the main story arc revolves around a multi-generational family known as the Madrigals. The back story involves a dangerous escape from soldiers during Colombia’s Thousand Days War. In this chapter of the Madrigal family history, the father is killed protecting his wife and children from the advancing soldiers, but the rest of the family escapes because of the magic of a candle. As it turns out, as long as this candle continues to burn, the Madrigal family functions under its magical protection. Included in this magical protection is the granting of one gift bestowed upon each subsequent child when they reach the age of five. As is often the case in stories such as this, these gifts become blessings, as well as curses. The family end up building a spacious home and dedicate themselves to serving the needs of those who live near them in the village (or Encanto). All is well until the day one of the grandchildren fails to receive her gift. This girl, named Mirabel, refuses to believe that her lack of a gift is merely something she has to live with. Determined to have her questions answered, Mirabel dons the role of an investigative reporter. Through her questions, we get to learn of the stress each member of the family labours under. We also get a sense of how grief can be transferred intergenerationally, and why that makes some family problems so difficult to ever fully resolve. Finally, Mirabel doggedly investigates what the big mystery is with her Uncle Bruno, and why he is so completely shunned by every member of the family. Her detective work uncovers a family shame that almost causes the magical protection of the candle to be eradicated. But, as to be expected with a Disney movie, MIrabel’s great sense of determination is also the source of redemption for her, for Bruno, and for the entire Madrigal Family.

Encanto was the first Disney movie to feature an all Latin cast. The costumes worn by the characters were all in keeping with those worn by Colombians in the time following the Thousand Days War. The vegetation shown throughout the movie was accurate for the region and even included yellow butterflies (which was a tip of the hat to the writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez). In the movie, the village seems like it is part of its own special, protected realm. It occupies a geographic space that separates it from any other town or city. This gives the encanto more of a communal feel. However, this is just one more example of how the makers of Encanto paid attention to detail, because in the Andes region of Colombia, there are many such villages that each exist in their own separate area, and as such, they often develop their own unique customs, dialects and so on. But, most of all, what the producers of Encanto got right was the role of music in Colombian culture. Far too often in the past, white filmmakers have imposed their own cultural biases on Indigenous cultures when making films about them. But, in the case of Encanto, the filmmakers actually visited Colombian villages; they employed Colombian experts on food, fashion, horticulture, family dynamics and so on. For the role of music in Colombian culture, they turned to Lin Manuel Miranda.

MIranda is the modern day master of ensemble storytelling. Because singing is a valid form of storytelling, Lin Manuel Miranda was able to create songs, all throughout the movie, that involved the points of view of multiple characters at the same time. In the case of We Don’t Talk About Bruno, Miranda allows almost a dozen different people (from family members to villagers) to offer their commentary as to why Bruno is scary and needs to be forgotten. The reason why they feel this way is that Bruno’s gift bestowed upon him by the magical candle was the gift of predicting the future. This is a gift that is all well and good when those predictions were positive…such as someone will find love or inherit a vast fortune. But, when those predictions began to mirror real life and included topics such as betrayal, loneliness, heartbreak, and even death…well, people began to fear Bruno and avoid him. Eventually, the energy required to avoid their fears became too much to maintain, and as a result, Bruno was banished as a means of easing the emotional toll others were feeling. That Bruno never meant any harm is what lay at the very crux of Encanto’s plot. The cruelty of the family’s treatment of one of their own is what causes the magical protection of the candle to wane. This threatens the very existence of the family and of the encanto they support. Superficially, we watch such a movie and understand that a resolution must come with empathy and understanding. However, in the real world in which we all live, Encanto has been lauded by advocates for mental wellbeing for showing the reality of how many in society react to those they view as being frightening or different. Those same experts also praise the producers of the movie for showing how compassion and patience can work miracles for many people who feel excluded and judged unfairly. In the end, the movie’s storyline wraps up with the idea of compassionate family love being the cure for what ails us all.

The song We Don’t Talk About Bruno went on to become a #1 hit in many countries around the world. It was an obvious choice to be submitted for consideration for the Best Song award at the Academy Awards. However, when the producers of Encanto reviewed all songs from the soundtrack, they felt that there was another song that packed more of an emotional punch. That song was entitled Dos Oruguitas. It did not win. But, in a twist of fate, We Don’t Talk About Bruno did get to be performed on stage during the award ceremonies. Award or no award, We Don’t Talk About Bruno is the song that people will always associate with the movie, Encanto, first. It is a song that describes cruelty in a way that makes your toes tap and your heart sing. But in the end, it is a song that provides the key to helping Mirabel solve the mystery of why her family’s magic appears to be ending, and from there, what steps she needs to take in order to help make things right for all involved.

So, without further delay, here is one of the world’s most popular and recognizable songs of this past year…We Don’t Talk About Bruno by Lin Manuel Miranda, from the Academy Award-winning animated movie Encanto. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song We Don’t Talk About Bruno can be found here.

The link to the video for the trailer to the movie Encanto can be found here.

The link to the official website for Billboard.com can be found here.

***Please note that the content of this post is the sole property of the author. It cannot be shared, re-posted or reproduced in any manner without the express written consent of the author. ©2022, TomMacInnesWriter.com

The Stars of Stage and Screen: the Stories of the Greatest Songs from Musicals and Movies…Song #1/250: Do You Hear The People Sing? from Les Miserables.

The story of Les Miserables stands as one of the most important and popular ever told. Whether we are talking about the novel by Victor Hugo, the musical created in the early 1980s by Claude-Michel Schonberg, Alain Boubill and Jean-Marc Natel or the various film adaptations….the most recent being the Academy Award-winning film starring a whos-who of modern movie greats such as Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Eddie Redmayne, Helena Bonham-Carter, Amanda Seyfried and Sacha Baron Cohen….Les Miserables has stood the test of time and is generally regarded as one of the best stories about the human condition and the power of faith and courage.

The original book is a work of historical fiction. It takes place in France in the two decades that preceded the June Rebellion in Paris that took place in 1832. Commenting on his book, author Victor Hugo took great pains to state that the issues addressed in Les Miserables were not unique to France nor were they unique to the characters he created and the real-life people many were based upon. To Hugo, the issue of how our individual moral compass directs us in times of great stress and hopelessness is universal in nature and, as such, his book could just as easily have been set during the American Revolution, the Russian Revolution or at any number of times throughout the course of British history.

If you have never read the book nor seen the musical or film, the short strokes of the story concern a man named Valjean. He was imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread and has now been released. But, he bears the mark of being an ex-convict and has limited future prospects, as a result. Throughout the story, he is hounded by a police officer named Javert. While there are many, many other things that happen in Les Miserables, the redemptive nature of how Valjean and Javert evolve over the course of the story is one of the most important reasons this story resonates so strongly on an emotional level. Intertwined with Valjean’s story arc, there are plotlines involving child labour, the role of women in society, the importance of family and of the bonds of Love that exist between family members, class distinctions and the politics of maintaining them and, of course, there is the growing organizational desire among the oppressed to overthrow the government and seek a fairer, more just way of living for all.

In the musical version of this story, there are several show-stopping songs. For example, there is I Dreamed a Dream, as sung by Fantine as she struggles to deal with the realities of her responsibilities to her child, Cossette, and the bleak future prospects they both have. Then we have the always entertaining, Master of the House, which showcases the complete lack of principles held by the Thenardiers, who own an inn and proceed to steal as much as they can from all who enter through their doors. The powerful song, One More Day, which ends Act #1, is sung from the individual points of view of many of the main characters as they stand at the eve of the rebellion. But, of all of the songs that helped to make Les Miserables such an enduring hit, none have had the global impact of the song, Do You Hear the People Sing?

Do You Hear The People Sing? is a song that is sung by those preparing to give their all for a cause they believe in. In the musical, those characters preparing to screw their courage and engage in an actual attempt to overthrow their government sang this song as they built their barricades and began to man them. There is a long tradition in warfare of hymns being sung prior to battle as a means of channeling nervous energy, as well as galvanizing the resolve of those prepared to give their lives for the cause they believe in. Do You Hear The People Sing? is a song of unity and common purpose and of Hope. It is sung in situations where the odds of victory are slim but the desire for freedom trumps the fear of defeat. All over the world there have been examples of this song being sung by real people fighting for freedom from tyranny and oppression. In fact, in the video links below, I will share with you two recent examples: one of which is by the people of Hong Kong, who sang the song as they sought to resist the threat to their autonomy posed by the Chinese government. The second example is a current one in which Ukrainian President Zelensky asked people around the world to use their voices to raise opposition to Russia’s war on his country. In response, many Broadway actors and local citizens gathered in New York to sing Do You Hear The People Sing? in order to let the Ukrainian people know that they weren’t alone in their time of struggle.

The history of human civilization is built on a fairly consistent cycle of oppression, rebellion, hopefulness and then, back into oppression again. The idea that justice and equality and freedom were worth believing in and fighting for is what inspired Victor Hugo to write his grand novel in the first place. I will close by quoting him as he speaks about the importance of Les Miserables in society and as a work of Art:

So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine with human frailty; so long as the three problems of the age – the degradation of Man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night- are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.” Victor Hugo.

Les Miserables is an extraordinary book but, for my money, it is even a better musical. To see Les Miz performed on stage by passionate actors who can really sing is one of the best theatrical experiences one can have. The story will rouse your emotions in a way that few plays do. So, without further delay, here is one of the most inspirational songs of all-time, Do You Hear The People Sing? from Les MIserables. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song, Do You Hear The People Sing? can be found here.

The link to the official website for Les Miserables, the musical can be found here.

The link to the video for the trailer to the movie adaptation of Les Miserables can be found here.

The link to the video of citizens of Hong Kong singing Do You Hear the People Sing? can be found here.

The link to the video of Broadway actors singing Do You Hear the People Sing? for the citizens of Ukraine can be found here.

***Please note that the content of this post is the sole property of the author. It cannot be shared, re-posted or reproduced in any manner without the express written consent of the author. ©2022, TomMacInnesWriter.com

RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #108: In The Still of the Night by The Five Satins.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010, as well as, the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their lists, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #108: In The Still of the Night by The Five Satins.

“In The Still of the Night” by The Five Satins is one of the best loved and most famous “Doo Wop” songs of all-time. A “Doo Wop” song is one that is based on singing and, in particular, on harmonies. In the case of “In The Still of the Night”, the song was written by a man named Fred Parris. Parris had a deep, rich voice. He sang lead vocals and, as such, he sang all of the verses and the chorus. He was backed by four back-up singers whose job it was to harmonize on the off-beats, usually using sounds (as opposed to real words). The overall effect was that the voices of the back-up singers would act like a traditional rhythm section would, as if instruments were being used.

“In The Still of the Night” was written in the mid-1950s by Parris. The song is about his desire for a girl and his hope that, even though he is going away, she will wait for him and they will reunite upon his return. Until that time, the memory of their last night together will have to help tide him over. Unfortunately for Parris, not long after recording “In The Still of the NIght”, he shipped out on active duty with the US Army. It was while stationed overseas that “In The Still of the Night” began receiving modest radio airplay. In an effort to capitalize on the attention the song was getting, a new singer was hired to replace Parris and, as a result, when the first live performances of the song were given, Parris was not even there to sing his own song. Eventually, he was honourably discharged and was able to resume his career.

“In The Still of the Night” never had much success when it came to the music charts. However, it has endured through the years and has emerged as the definitive example of a great Doo Wop song. “In The Still of the Night” was used to great effect in the movie, “Dirty Dancing”, as well as during the opening scenes in the recent movie, “The Irishman”.

“In The Still of the Night” is part of the soundtrack of the 1950s and is one of the best songs to illustrate the beauty of vocal harmonizing. This has, in turn, has inspired modern day groups such as Boyz II Men, who are carrying on the tradition of Doo Wop in a way that must have made Fred Parris proud.

For now, let’s listen to one of the greatest Doo Wop songs of all-time….”In The Still of the Night” by The Five Satins. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song, “In The Still of the Night” by The Five Satins, can be found here.

The link to the official website for The Five Satins, can be found here.

The link to the video of the song, “In The Still of the Night”, as covered by Boyz II Men, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Boyz II Men, can be found here.

The link to the video for the movie, “The Irishman”, which uses “In The Still of the Night”, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Rolling Stone Magazine, can be found here.

RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #111: Rocketman (I Think It’s Gonna Be A Long, Long Time) by Elton John.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010, as well as, the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their lists, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #111: Rocketman (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long Time) by Elton John.

In the mid 1950s, science fiction writer, Ray Bradbury, released a book called, “The Illustrated Man”. In that book, there was a central character who was covered in tattoos. Each tattoo told a different story. One of the stories in Bradbury’s anthology was called, “The Rocket Man”. In that story, being an astronaut had changed from the early days of space travel, when astronauts were viewed as heroes, to being more of a job along the lines of an airplane pilot. The plot revolved around a career astronaut who was growing tired of making his journeys into space but, continued to do so because of his son, who looked up to him with hero-worshipping eyes. The boy dreams of travelling among the stars, like his Dad until, one day, when the father makes that one last flight and dies in an accident in Space. This causes the boy to live a life haunted by the very stars he once sought to visit.

The Bradbury story of “The Rocketman” inspired a band named Pearls Before Swine to record a song of their own called, “Rocketman”. This song came out not long after David Bowie had released, “Space Oddity” so, it was a heady time for space-inspired music in the UK. The legend of the Elton John version of “Rocketman” is that, around the time “Space Oddity” and the Pearls Before Swine version of “Rocketman” came out, Bernie Taupin one night witnessed a shooting star. This caused him to gaze toward the Heavens in wonder and set his mind to work. Taupin freely admits that he was directly influenced by Bradbury, Bowie and PBS and that the song he came to write was merely his own interpretation on the topic. In fact, since the Taupin/Elton John version was published, many listeners believe that they were not talking about space travel, specifically but, in reality, they were using the loneliness of space travel as a metaphor for the rock n’ roll lifestyle that they were starting to experience in their own lives.

“Rocketman (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long Time)” by Sir Elton John came from his fifth studio album called, “Honky Chateau” which was, really, only his second album of note. His previous album, “Madman Across the Water” was the album that really brought them both into the national spotlight and started them down the road to stardom. So, it was not surprising that both Taupin and Elton John would be finding that their lives were changing and that this process would find itself written down in song. So, as much as “Rocketman (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long Time” is a nick of two previously recorded songs, the duo managed to make it uniquely their own, at the same time. It is a song that has gone on to be a fan favourite and one that is consistently rated as a classic among all of the great tunes under the Elton John name.

I am a big fan of this song. He and Taupin wrote such great “story” songs during this period in their careers! “Someone Saved My Life Tonight”, “Tiny Dancer”, “Levon”, “Philadelphia Freedom”, “Island Girl” and so many more, all came from a period of 5-7 years. But, as prolific as Taupin and Elton John were back in the 1970s, the better tribute is the enduring legacy of such hits. Even today, in 2022 as I write this post, “Rocketman (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long Time)” remains a vital song, as seen in how it is sampled for inclusion in the Elton John/Dua Lipa collaboration called, “Cold, Cold Heart”, which the three ladies I live with all think is a smashing version of the classic song.

In the end, “Rocketman (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long Time)” is a song that hints at the perils of a life that can only be experienced alone; whether it be on the brightest of stages or among the shiniest of stars. It takes a brave heart to endure either. Without further delay, here is Sir Elton John with the classic song, “Rocketman (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long TIme)”. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song, “Rocketman (I Think It’s Gonna Be A Long, Long Time” by Elton John, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Elton John, can be found here.

The link to the video for the song, “Rocketman” by Pearls Before Swine, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Pearls Before Swine, can be found here.

The link to the video for the song, “Cold, Cold Heart” by Dua Lipa ft. Elton John, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Dua Lipa can be found here.

The link to the official website for Rolling Stone Magazine, can be found here.

RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #2: Your Song by Elton John.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010, as well as, the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their lists, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #2: Your Song by Elton John.

Welcome to the second-last post in this series. 498 music posts are done and in the books. Thank you to everyone who has managed to follow me through this adventure so far. I have appreciated your presence more than you can imagine. Therefore, this post…..Music Post #499 is for you.

All of you.

My Facebook family and friends, my pals from the world of Twitter and, finally, those WordPress Blogging Community writers who discovered this countdown in mid-stream and who have been joining on in ever-increasing numbers as we have neared the end. All of you have contributed much to this countdown, with your opinions on the songs and artists, your concert memories, your personal connections and memories and so much more. I honestly can’t be sure that I would have had the staying power to have completed all 500 posts if I only had had myself for company. So, thanks.

Months and months ago, I made some editorial decisions regarding how I wanted to use the final slots in the Top Ten.

One of those decisions was that I wanted to involve you in this process so, as you already know, I instituted an Honourable Mention category. That suggestion originally came from my buddy, Allister Matheson. It was a suggestion that I liked right from the very first time I read it. What I liked best about it was that it brought you all into the process, too. Because of this, we have all gotten to have a sneak peek into what makes music special for you. It has been a complete honour to have been able to share your stories about the special songs in your life. Thank you for trusting me with your memories. By the way, if you want to know why I invited you to participate in the Honourable Mention category in the first place, it was because you were one of the people who participated in this countdown with me the most. You Honourable Mention folks were the Top 24 most engaged readers of my posts. Your interest in this project is humbling. I am grateful, in reply.

Secondly, a long time ago, I made the decision to cut off the Honourable Mention songs at Song #2….today’s song. I did this because I felt all along that whatever ended up in Slot #1 deserved our full attention. The spotlight will be shining in only one direction tomorrow and that will be on Song #1.

Finally, many months ago I knew I wanted to reserve a song slot for all of you, as my way of expressing my gratitude. Thus, I organized this space so that the first 498 song posts were dedicated spaces that focused directly on the music and the artists who created it. But, I always intended to reserve Song #2 for you. Because of that decision, I have known for a very long time that “Your Song” by Sir Elton John, was going to be the second last song in our countdown. Sir Elton John’s first big hit….a song about friendship and a shared love of music, seemed like the appropriate choice. It is the song I dedicate to all of you

“Your Song” came from his self-titled debut album and, along with “Take Me To The Pilot”, were the big hits from it. Like so many songs of late in our countdown, Sir Elton was not the first to record and release this song, even though it was written by Bernie Taupin and arranged by him. For awhile, Sir Elton John went on tour with the band, Three Dog Night. He was the opening act. After hearing him trot out the songs that he had at his disposal, Three Dog Night asked to record “Your Song”. Sir Elton took their interest as a compliment and allowed them to do so. But, knowing that this talented young man was about to release his first album, Three Dog Night kept their version of “Your Song” under wraps until Sir Elton was able to release it himself. Kudos to Three Dog Night for being decent fellows.

In interviews, as well as, in the movie about Sir Elton John’s life, “Rocketman”, Bernie Taupin claims to have written the lyrics to “Your Song” while visiting his friend, “Reginald Dwight” at his mother’s flat. Taupin was upstairs listening to his friend play away on the piano that stood the dining/living room of the flat. To Taupin, Reggie’s playing at the piano confirmed for him that he was a star in the making. The emotions woven into the song come across as being between two lovers but, as we know, Taupin and Sir Elton John were like brothers, not lovers so, the affection that oozes through the song is heartfelt but meant as being from one true friend to another. “Your Song” was one of the very first collaborative experiences the two had…..the first of a very great many, as it turned out. John Lennon was quoted as saying how happy he was to have heard this song on the radio because, in his mind, it was the freshest sound in the UK at the time and a worthy successor to the songs The Beatles had put out.

Is “Your Song” the second best song of all time? Probably not but, it is a great song just the same. It is a song about friendship and camaraderie. Furthermore, it is a song that captures how I feel about this journey of ours and that I got to share it all with you. Here are some stats for you:

498 Music countdown posts, along with 24 Honourable Mention posts.

Not counting my replies, you folks have made approximately 1500 comments….and, not just short, one-word comments, either. Many of you typed whole paragraphs for comments! But, even more importantly, many of you spoke from the heart. That pleased me more than anything because it indicated to me that you all felt safe and comfortable doing so. That was the social environment I was hoping to create. I am glad that you felt at home here.

Not counting my own input, there have been approximately 4500 “Likes” and “Loves” clicked on Facebook and Twitter and on WordPress. There have been several dozen “Wows”, too. Thanks for them all.

Finally, I want to go back to the very beginning….in fact, even before the beginning. This whole countdown journey started with a Facebook post that stated I was growing dull-witted living the pandemic lockdown life and that I needed to focus on something or else I was going to lose my mind. Well, as it turned out, that post (birthday posts, excepted) was the single most popular post ever during my time on Facebook, when it comes to comments. I got dozens and dozens and dozens of enthusiastic comments; all of them wishing me well, all of them voicing confidence in my ability to pull it off and, finally, many of them pledging interactive support should I actually decide to begin. Thanks for such a wonderful show of faith. It was the boost I needed to actually have the nerve to start this project. It has been the fuel that has kept me going when I was only at Song #334 or #278 and still had such a long way to go. It is what has brought me to this point in the project….with all of you by my side.

But, we don’t have a long way to go anymore, do we? Today is Post #499 and tomorrow, we arrive at our destination with the final song. Until then, please accept my thanks, one last time and have a listen to a special song that was selected for you a long time ago. Here is “Your Song” by Sir Elton John. Enjoy.

And, thank you.

This has been wonderful. ❤

The link to the video for the song, “Your Song” by Sir Elton John, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Sir Elton John, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Rolling Stone magazine, can be found here.

KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Honourable Mention Song #23: Sunflower by Post Malone and Swae Lee from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the Film, “Spiderman Into the Spiderverse” (as Nominated by Siobhan Percolides).

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010, as well as, the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their lists, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Honourable Mention Song #23: Sunflower by Post Malone and Swae Lee (from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the Film, “Spiderman Into the Spiderverse” (as Nominated by Siobhan Percolides.

On the “Honourable Mention” side of my scheduled posts, I had one opening left over from the nominated songs process, so I combed through all of those songs which were left over during the first round and opted to go with “Sunflower” by Post Malone and Swae Lee from the Academy Award winning animated movie, “Spiderman Into the Spiderverse”. We have already had an HM post from Siobhan about the Tragically Hip song, “Fifty Mission Cap”, *(which you can read here) so you can find out all about this totally rad woman there. But, for the sake of this new post, the important thing to note is that, like me, Siobhan has two daughters about the same ages as my girls and, as such, we have our fingers on the pulse of some of the advances going on today when it comes to how stories are told and then, by extension, how those stories are communicated to audiences. It is no longer as simple and straight-forward as it was when I was the age of my girls. So, strap in and hold on because this story might hurt your brain a little but, that is ok because it is important to have an understanding of how the world of information and storytelling is evolving……which is what “Spiderman Into the Spiderverse” is all about. Here we go!

Much earlier in our countdown, I wrote a post about a song called, “Black Sheep” by Metric from the Original Soundtrack to the Film, “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”. *(You can and should read that post now). The Art of Storytelling has evolved over the past decade or so. Stories are now being told to audiences in greater depth, in a more nuanced manner using techniques such as prequels, sequels, origin stories, etc., to add dimensionality to the characters and storylines found in an original, singular movie. Many of these stories are, in turn, being presented to audiences in a variety of formats such as graphic novels, video games, songs, animated movies or episodic tv shows, full-length movies and much more. The artists involved in these movies also participate in numerous ways as actors, singers, gamers and so on and they, in turn, cross-promote and integrate their involvement in a given story, across multiple communication platforms at their disposal, such as music streaming services, YouTube-type formats, on Social media and so on. The end result is an integrated web of content being created in multiple ways, for multiple purposes and being communicated to audience along multiple platforms. In other words, the structure of the storytelling machine…..which used to be the sole domain of Hollywood movie studios, for example,……..is now much more accessible and inter-active because it appears in so many forms to suit the needs of the people telling the stories, as well as, those receiving these stories at the other end.

The “Spiderman” comic book character is a fantastic example of how things have changed. When I was a young boy, “Spiderman” was a comic book character. He wasn’t part of the “Marvel Universe”, as he is known to be today. In my day, he was simply a comic book character. In that story, his real name was Peter Parker and he came to become the vigilante superhero, “Spiderman” because Parker received a spider bite from a radioactive spider. Eventually, the “Spiderman” comic book character became a cartoon character on Television for kids like me. The shows were episodic and looked like any other animated tv show. After awhile, I outgrew the cartoon show and “Spiderman” disappeared from my life.

However, much has changed in regard to story franchises such as “Star Wars”, “DC Comics” and “Marvel Comics”. The simplistic days of my youth have given way to a more much creative and detailed “world” from which many of these famous comic book characters reside. Whole books have been written about this phenomenon but, for the sake of this post, let’s stick with “Spiderman” and, specifically, the movie, “Spiderman Into the Spiderverse”. First of all, the simple stuff……”Spiderman Into the Spiderverse” was the first full-length animated Marvel superhero movie ever made. It won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film in 2019 because it created its’ animation in a way that had never been done before. Over 200 professional animators and computer graphic designers worked to make a movie that looks like a comic book come to life. The comic book format is, obviously, a tip-of-the-hat to Marvel’s roots but, in practical reality, these animators created a three-dimensional world within the traditional two-dimensional world of a comic book. But, more than that, they did it with a unique twist to the typical storyline used for a movie.

Increasingly, “Marvel”, “Star Wars”, franchises have been dabbling with a philosophical construct called the multiverse or “parallel universes”. The idea behind this concept is that in the whole of totality, we exist in a universe that is but, one, of many similar yet, separate universes that comprise all of existence, as we know it. We are born, live our lives and then, die…all in our own universe. At the same time, others are being born, living their lives and dying, unbeknownst to us, off in their universes at the exact same time as we are. We both exist and are unique to our own world but, our worlds exist separately and, as such, we are not aware of the existence of the other person nor them, us. If you can wrap your head around the notion of parallel universes then, add one further element…..that being the ability to access a different universe and move from one to the other. In modern storytelling, characters have developed the ability to discover portals and other such entry points that allow them to travel between universes. The only problem with this is that a character is uniquely suited to their own universe or world. When they travel to a realm outside of their own, they begin to deteriorate and, as such, their time in a new universe is severely finite. Thus, if I was a character from another universe and travelled to this world where I ended up meeting my future wife, Keri, we couldn’t marry because I would not be from here and would not survive to live longer than a very short time. These sorts of restrictions on movement between universes cause many emotionally-charged moments and lots of weighty decisions that add to the drama of the storyline being told.

So…….the idea behind “Spiderman Into the Spiderverse” is that there is a new Spiderman…..a boy of colour, mixed with Latino heritage…..who is bitten by the spider and who finds himself forced into saving Earth from a criminal mastermind. However, in order to do so, he receives help from many other “Spidermen” and “Spiderwomen” from other universes or “spider verses”, as it were. One of those “Spidermen” who aid our new hero is the original Peter Parker character. The point of doing a movie like this is that it allows Marvel or Star Wars or whatever, the creative license to freshen up their franchise characters and to stretch the story narratives in any direction they desire. From a storytelling perspective, creators are no longer limited to the parameters of the original story. Anything is now possible.

The song, “Sunflower” is by two singers named Post Malone and Swae Lee. Both singers/rappers are big names in the current music scene and have worked with everyone from Madonna to Justin Bieber. Post Malone, for example, has sold over 80 million copies of his albums so far in his short career, which puts him in the same rarified air as many of the greatest selling artists and bands of all-time. The song, “Sunflower” was nominated for a Grammy Award for Song of the Year, as well as, an Academy Award for Best Song from a Movie. The video for this song will show you the comic book animation that was featured all throughout “Spiderman Into the Spiderverse” and is really quite something. My two daughters both like “Sunflower” so, if you want to score points with your own children and grandchildren, name drop “Sunflower” and talk a bit about multiple universes…..everyone will think you are all that and a bag of chips, too.

So, without further delay, here are Post Malone and Swae Lee with their #1 hit song, “Sunflower”, from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the Film, “Spiderman Into the Spiderverse”. Thanks for nominating this song and allowing me to tell this story, Siobhan. Enjoy, everyone.

The link to the video for the song, “Sunflower” by Post Malone and Swae Lee, from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the Film, “Spiderman Into the Spiderverse”, can be found here.

The link to the video for the trailer to the film, “Spiderman Into the Spiderverse”, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Post Malone, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Swae Lee, can be found here.

RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #113: Hard Day’s Night by The Beatles.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010, as well as, the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their lists, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #113: A Hard Day’s Night by The Beatles.

The song, “A Hard Day’s Night” comes from a Beatles movie of the same name that was released the year I was born in 1964. There is much about this, seemingly simple song, that helps illustrate the musical skills and creative mindset that elevated The Beatles from their peers and helped make them the greatest band of all-time.

Julian Lennon’s birthday card. “Hard Day’s Night” lyrics on back cover.

For instance, as we have discussed previously, The Beatles (along with The Rolling Stones) were the first band to take creative control of their music by singing songs that they actually wrote. John Lennon wrote the lyrics to “A Hard Day’s Night” in a taxi cab, on the back of his son, Julian’s birthday card, on the way to the studio. Lennon had been tasked with writing the final song for the soundtrack and was given one night to do it. So, the legend goes, Lennon rolled into the studio, picked up his guitar, laid out the birthday card before him and launched into the song. The rest of the band fleshed out their own, individual roles and then, they all recorded the song in one day; using the ninth of ten takes, I believe.

What made The Beatles so special was not just that they could whip up a hit song in twenty-four hours. It was that they could do so and still incorporate such amazingly detailed touches that most bands wouldn’t think of if they had twenty-four days to come up with them. A case in point is the opening guitar chord. If you know the song, you know it opens with one, crisp guitar chord and then, the rest of the song begins. Well, apparently, that opening chord has gone on to be studied for its meticulous construction and sound techniques. To my untrained ears, it sounds like one person strumming a guitar. The lead guitarist happened to be George Harrison, who used a twelve-string Rickenbacker guitar for “A Hard Day’s Night” *(Which, when heard a year or so later by Roger McGuinn of The Byrds, became the inspiration for him to use a Rickenbacker guitar for “Turn, Turn, Turn.) Anyway, it was not one person (Harrison) strumming a guitar that starts “A Hard Day’s Night”. In fact, it is five people hitting various chords on various instruments simultaneously: Harrison, on the Rickenbacker guitar, John and Paul on acoustic guitars, Ringo on his drums and producer, George Martin, on the piano. Because of the nature of the chords each struck, the sounds wrapped around each other to make a fuller sound that appears to vibrate. In fact, I read that Paul positioned himself in such a way that the vibrations from his acoustic guitar entered the sound box of John Lennon’s acoustic guitar, causing Lennon’s notes to vibrate differently than they would have on their own. If I was talented enough to play guitar, my opening chord would sound like a meat-and-potatoes version compared to the chef’s banquet of sounds created by The Beatles on that one opening chord.

The phrase “A Hard Day’s Night” has been credited to Ringo who, according to the boys in the band, was known for speaking in Lewis Carroll-esque malapropisms, which are mixed up sayings and phrasings. In this case, after a recording session that had started during the day and gone on until well into the night, Ringo had lost track of what time of day it was and announced that it had been “a hard day’s night”. The band thought that sounded like a good title for their first movie which, until that time, was going to be called, “Beatlemania”. It is, also, noteworthy that “A Hard Day’s Night” was The Beatles first foray into movies and that the film ended up winning an Academy Award that year for best original song. It, also, shows their ability to be forward-thinkers because their movie signalled a broader, multi-pronged approach to marketing themselves and their music. The Beatles were never content to “just be singers”; they produced many movies, books, magazines, comics, documentaries and so on, making them one of the first true multi-media organizations in the UK and around the world.

In any case, “A Hard Day’s Night”, has gone on to become one of the classic Beatles songs. It was regularly played in their live shows and always finds its way on to all of the various Greatest Hits albums and playlists that abound these days. So, without further delay, here is “A Hard Day’s Night” by The Beatles; released in 1964, just like me. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song, “Hard Day’s Night” by The Beatles, can be found here.

The link to the video for the movie trailer for the film, “Hard Day’s Night”, can be found here.

The link to the official website for The Beatles, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Rolling Stone Magazine, can be found here.

KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Honourable Mention Song #19: The Rose by Bette Midler from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the Movie, “The Rose” (as Nominated by Barb Henderson).

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010, as well as, the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their lists, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Honourable Mention Song #19: The Rose by Bette Midler from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the Movie, “The Rose” (as Nominated by Barb Henderson).

This post contains the story of four women: Janis Joplin, Bette Midler, Amanda McBroom and my pal, Barb Henderson. I shall tell their tale in order, from Janis to Barb. Regardless of which woman I am discussing at any one time, they are all fabulously talented, strong, intelligent and creative females. I am happy to follow Bette Midler and Amanda McBroom on Social Media and to know Barb Henderson in real life. Here is the story of how all four are connected.

It all begins with singer extraordinaire, Janis Joplin. Janis Joplin had a voice that helped define the musical sound of the 1960s. *(you can read all about her, here). As with any public figure who lived hard, soared to the highest reaches of fame and fortune, only to see it all come crashing down due to addictions to drugs and alcohol, dying far too soon at age 27, Joplin’s was a story that had fascinated many people for years. So, in the early 1980s, it came as no surprise that Hollywood decided to tell her life story in film. The movie was supposed to be called, “Pearl” because that was Joplin’s nickname…..it was, also, the name of the last album she ever released before her death, as well. However, those entrusted with guarding her legacy and her personal estate, let Hollywood know, in no uncertain terms, that they did not have permission to make a movie about her life, nor could they create characters based upon her family, friends and bandmates and, especially, that they were not allowed to use her name and/or nickname in the title of any such film. So, “Pearl”, the movie, was shelved.

But, the idea of making a movie “inspired” by a gravelly-voiced, curly-haired, drug-addicted singer who became the voice of her generation held too much appeal and so, the idea for “Pearl” evolved into a new movie called, “The Rose” starring Bette Midler. “The Rose” is, essentially, Janis Joplin’s life story except that, it isn’t. The producers of the movie went to great lengths to fictionalize her story in all regards; especially when it came to the music that was to be sung. Because the producers weren’t allowed to use any of Joplin’s original music, nor to cover any tunes that even remotely resembled her work, a call was placed for new, original works…..preferably from new songwriters. As a result of this open call, over 3000 demo tapes were submitted. One of those 3000 demo tapes belonged to an aspiring singer-songwriter from Los Angeles named Amanda McBroom.

McBroom had never sold a song before and, at first, wasn’t even sure how to go about submitting a song of hers called, “The Rose”. McBroom wrote “The Rose” in her family home, surrounded by cats and dogs and rabbits and one husband, apparently, after being encouraged by a local L.A. musician to create a tape of her own songs that she could shop around town. She asked her musician friend what sorts of themes were popular sellers in the L.A. market and he replied that all of the best songs are about Love. So, McBroom headed for home with a head filled with thoughts about what exactly Love was. The more she began to answer her own question, the more the song, “The Rose” began to form in her mind. At the time, “The Rose” was just a song that she hoped someone would buy for a couple of hundred bucks. Then, Hollywood came knocking at her door.

McBroom submitted “The Rose” to the production team but, unfortunately, those vetting the 3000 songs (which they were to reduce to an even 100 for Midler and the producers to pick from) rejected McBroom’s song and sent it to the discard pile. But as the production team started combing through the final 100 songs, it was noted that there were no songs with a soaring ballad. The producers especially wanted a grand ballad to play over the closing credits. So, they went through the discarded songs one more time……this time, specifically looking for a soaring ballad song. That is when, “The Rose” was given new life. In fact, when the production team listened to the lyrics more closely and heard McBroom sing about love being like a rose, it caused them to all agree that “The Rose” and “Pearl” shared several similar aspects in common and, just like that, McBroom’s anonymous song changed the course of the whole movie. Joplin’s “Pearl” was now, Midler’s “Rose” and McBroom’s life changed forever.

The song, “The Rose” won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year. It, also, won a Golden Globe Award for Best Song in a Movie. But, “The Rose” did not win an Oscar. In fact, it was not even nominated! That story speaks to the innocence of McBroom, when it came to how to play the Hollywood game. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has rules that must be met in order to someone to be nominated in any of the various categories for which Oscars are awarded. In the case of “Best Song”, one of the criteria is that the song had to be written specifically for the movie. Well, when “The Rose” movie came out, Amanda McBroom found herself the subject of much media attention as the writer of the iconic song from the film. In the course of her interviews, she happily told her story of being a struggling wannabe songwriter, hoping to make it big by shopping her demo tape of songs she had written. As a result of watching these interviews, The Academy ruled McBroom’s song as being ineligible because it was not written specifically for the film. So, even though her song won every conceivable award for movie-related music that year, an Oscar was denied on a technicality. McBroom, however, has never complained about her gaff. She went from a “nobody” to a “somebody” in the blink of an eye and has been never had to shop her songs around town again.

This brings us to my friend, Barb Henderson. I first met Barb about ten years ago. She was a retired educator who was volunteering her time with an organization called, “S.O.N.G.”. The “S.O.N.G. Programme”, as we called it at the school I was teaching at, was designed upon a South American model that helped children in poverty discover the discipline and creative beauty of choral and orchestral music. Because Barb and her colleagues at “S.O.N.G.” ran after-school programmes which many of my own students attended, I got to know her well. She has been a fan of my writing since I used tell my stories using the Blogger platform. Back then, I wrote mainly about Education and children. Since those early days, I have retired and moved over to WordPress. Barb has continued to support my work, while continuing to volunteer with “S.O.N.G.”, as well as, at a Fair Trade store in our town called, “Ten Thousand Villages“. In fact, when the Covid-19 Pandemic first graced our shores back in 2020, Barb was kind enough to offer to make handmade face masks for anyone who wanted some. I asked her for four; one for each member of my family. We still have and use all four of those masks today.

Anyway, for many, many years, Barb was married to a kind-hearted man named Roger. The story is that one day, waaaaaay back in their early days together, when Barb was still deciding if Roger was truly the one for her, he surprised her after school one day with a scroll containing the handwritten lyrics to “The Rose”, curled around a beautiful red rose of her own. Needless to say, Barb decided that Roger was a keeper. I believe there may have been roses grown in their garden, as well.

Music is wonderful. A song like “The Rose” can be a song about love. It can change the lives of those who wrote it (McBroom), those who sang it (Midler…..Grammy Award) and those who listened to it (Barb and Roger Henderson). That a song can touch so many lives in so many different and yet, profound ways, is the magic of music. It is why songs matter.

Thanks, Barb, for nominating such a terrific song and for trusting me to share your story of how “The Rose” impacted your life. As well, thank you for all of your comments, questions and shared stories that you have contributed to this musical countdown journey of ours along the way. Your support of me and my writing has made all the difference and is gratefully-appreciated. Much thanks to you for everything.

So, without further delay, here is Bette Midler, singing an Amanda McBroom song that sealed the union of Roger and Barb……..”The Rose”, from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the movie, “The Rose”. Enjoy.

The link to the video to the song, “The Rose” by Bette Midler, from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the movie, “The Rose”, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Bette Midler, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Amanda McBroom, can be found here.

The link to the video for the trailer for the movie, “The Rose”, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Janis Joplin, can be found here.

The link to the official website for the “S.O.N.G. Programme”, can be found here.